Diabetic neuropathy is often associated with lack of sensation. For instance, the patient fails to notice the pain that a cut on their feet would normally cause, which in turn can lead to infection and, in the worst case scenario, gangrene and amputation. However, neuropathic pain in patients with diabetic neuropathy can be so intense that it interrupts sleep. The good news is that transcutaneous electrical nerve application to the lumbar region skin –by way of a TENS 3000 unit- can reduce pain intensity and allow the patient to live a better quality life.
One of the most serious complications of diabetic peripheral neuropathy is an unrelenting, burning or searing pain. This pain is so deep that it reacts badly even to light touch, for example contact with bedclothes, believe it or not. This discomfort has been reported to take place right in the center of the bone, and can cause several related complications such as lack of sleep, weight loss and depression. The root of this pain is believed to be peripheral nerve damage due to glucose intraneuronal levels high enough to saturate normal metabolic pathways for the carbohydrates. Disturbed nerve blood supply due to perineural vascular changes is also cited.
High frequency TENS is known to block irregular and spontaneous activity in an injured peripheral nerve, as well as inhibit dorsal horn nociceptive transmission, both of which make it an ideal management alternative for this particular type of pain. TENS has decreased nociceptive responsiveness and painful mechanical stimulations in primates and cats, respectively. That doesn’t it is effective only in animals, though. David L. Somers and Martha F. Somers
published an article in the Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association describing the positive effects that TENS therapy yielded on a 73 year old woman afflicted with pain in the left lower extremity over the lateral aspect of the hip and the entire leg below the knee.
After being administered 20 minutes of TENS on the first day of therapy, the woman experienced a 38% decrease in pain. Seventeen days later, she reported no pain after 20 minutes of TENS and, more importantly, she was able to sleep the whole night through. It is important to note that the patient was also given Vicodin, Xanax and Pamelor. Many people prefer to use the TENS 3000
precisely because they want to avoid prescription medications. Nevertheless, both approaches can complement each other as well.
Related Read: Getting a Grasp on the TENS 3000 Parameter Controls